Karine Jean-Pierre
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Indiana Lawmakers Override Governor to Enact Anti-Trans Sports Law

Michelle Davis

Indiana just joined the list of states barring transgender girls from competing on school sports teams for females.

Both houses of the Republican-dominated state legislature voted Tuesday to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of the exclusionary bill, according to multiple media outlets. Holcomb is a Republican as well, but he had opposed the measure authored by Rep. Michelle Davis. He said it was unnecessary and could result in the state being sued.

Indeed, a lawsuit has already been filed. Shortly after the veto, lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Indiana affiliate filed suit in federal court on behalf of a 10-year-old trans girl identified as A.M., who has played on a girls’ softball team but will now be unable to do so.

The suit asks the court to block the Indiana law, which is set to go into effect July 1. The law violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law banning sex discrimination in education, and the guarantee of equal protection under the U.S. Constitution, the suit asserts.

“When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from school sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students — including trans people — on the basis of sex and it denies the promise of the Constitution of equal protection under the law,” Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana, said in a press release. “Girls like A.M. simply want to access the same opportunities as their peers and denying them that right jeopardizes their mental health and physical well-being.”

The Indiana bill’s supporters claimed to be protecting girls’ and women’s sports. “The purpose of this bill is to maintain fair competition in girls’ sports now and in the future,” Davis said on the House floor Tuesday afternoon, according to The Indianapolis Star.

Opponents countered that the legislation is simply discriminatory. Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor said it is “blatantly” so and that its partisans are “throwing children under the bus,” the Star reports.

The Indiana measure affects K-12 public schools and any private schools that compete against them. It does not cover colleges and universities, and it does not restrict sports participation by trans males.

In Indiana, it takes only a simple majority to override a governor’s veto. Legislators in Kentucky and Utah also have overridden governors’ vetoes of anti-trans sports bills. Such bills have also become law in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Enforcement of the Idaho and West Virginia laws is halted while lawsuits proceed. Governors in Kansas, Louisiana, and North Dakota have vetoed similar legislation, but Louisiana lawmakers just passed such a bill again, raising the question of whether Gov. John Bel Edwards will issue another veto.

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